On Friday, Nov. 5, the Sugar Bears competed against the Bellarmine Knights in Louisville, Ky., in a slow starting game that ended in victory for the UCA volleyball team. 

The Sugar Bears ended with a score of 3-1, losing the first set 16-25, then picking up to 25-20 in the second set, 25-21 in the third set, and 25-20 in the fourth and final set.

“We won in three, the sets were all close but we played a very disciplined and competitive game,” middle block and right-side hitter Amari Mitchell said. 

The Sugar Bears stayed consistent after the first set of the game, bringing in high scores for the remainder of the game. 

“I thought our team did exceptional today.We had to overcome some adversity during set one and part of set two,” said coach John Newberry. “One of the things we talked about in the locker room before the game was that we need to be resilient and talked about what that meant.”

The game, which seemed to take off in the second set of four sets, was upheld by the freshmen on the team, right-side hitter Mackenzie Vernon, outside hitter Lily Taylor and libero Shelbi Owens. 

Vernon was put in after her teammate, junior outside hitter Alexis Stumbough, went down in the game. This made Vernon go on to secure fourteen kills and two blocks during the whole game. 

Newberry said, “We’ve been trying to figure out how to get her [Vernon] to be successful consistently, and today I thought she played a very smart game. She knew when to tip and she knew when to swing hard. That was really crucial for us because we needed those kills from her and she got them in various forms.”

Newberry also said that Taylor had a “tall order” to fulfill by being put in during the sixth rotation as a freshman and that she did “an extraordinary job with her passing” through the game. Taylor hosted eight kills and matched with eight digs on Friday against Bellarmine. 

During the game, a personal change took place between sophomore Lexie Gregory and Owens. 

Newberry said, “In the last three sets, the sets that we won, I thought they rose to the occasion and did a great job on their new responsibilities that were put right in front of them.”

Owens led the Bears with 12 digs through the game. Another player to mention is junior setter Anna Williams, who pulled 38 assists for the Bears. The Bears got 65 points total on Friday. 

Newberry said that resilience is “exactly what we talked about after the win, that after we overcame the adversity, we learn how to be resilient and finish the match to overcome that adversity.”

After being eliminated from the postseason competition on Saturday, Nov. 6, from a loss against Eastern Kentucky University, the UCA Bears will face two more scheduled opponents before the season concludes. 

The next two games will be home games against Jacksonville State University on Friday, Nov. 12, and University of North Alabama on Sunday, Nov. 14. 

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